June 5, 2008

on the awkward girl in the back row...

The other day in class, I was called to go to the front of the class for a demonstration. Now, I'm usually okay. Even though I'm not genuinely comfortable, I'm usually able to feign some sort of confidence, right? Right. Well, I went up to the front of the class with the other person in the demonstration - a shaggy-haired, goofy surfer guy who I've been sitting next to for the last week. We were supposed to act as if we were meeting each other for the first time, and then they were going to analyze why we acted the way we did. Simple enough, no?

Well, we get to the front of the class, and I'm all inwardly-conversing with myself saying, "See? You're not awkward. You can be confident. Act natural. Your hair looks good today. Just smile. Don't think about how all eyes are on you. Just smile. Act like a normal human being."

I turn to Surfer Guy and go to shake his hand, and he (I should have predicted this, really) said something silly to make everyone laugh and didn't take it seriously at all. Now, I would have hoped that I could've just given him one of those "oh, you silly boy" looks and moved on, but instead I got totally nervous. He threw off my groove, or something. I was all, "Lord in heaven, let me go back to my seat now. I am so incredibly embarrassed."

When I get nervous in front of people, my face gets twitchy I am a bit jittery and I can't make eye-contact with anyone. I'm no Buster from Arrested Development (please watch this show if you haven't yet), but still. I revert back to that day in fifth grade where I had to do the book report on my favorite Full House book (yes, that's the actual book, and I totally wanted the outfit Stephanie was wearing on the cover), and I was graded down because I was too nervous to make eye contact with anyone in the class. I nearly cried because I did so well on every other aspect and it didn't seem fair to grade me down because I wasn't a natural public speaker at ten-years-old. Well, anyway. I like to consider them tiny little panic attacks, because I do become completely awkward and can't just snap out of it and pull through the next two minutes with any amount of grace.

I think this is something quite odd, because I'm great when meeting new people. I'm very friendly and confident in groups. I'm always ready with a smile, am pretty good at putting people at ease (I think this is because it's how I want people to treat me), I can do the whole small-talk/witty-banter thing without much hesitation...but when I'm put on the spot in front of people and expected to act/react a certain way?

A small part of me dies a little inside. Dies a slow and painful death.

This, coming from a girl who did musical theatre for 4 years, was in nearly a dozen plays, and survived countless auditions. I'm seriously confused by my reactions sometimes. I sit and try to figure out WHY I even get nervous and freak out during these certain moments, and really, I can't ever think of a good reason why. Maybe it's just because my inner monologue is ADHD and I tend to over think things. That could be it.

It's so frustrating, though. All I could think of when I got back to my seat was, "Great. Now I'm going to be known as the socially awkward girl in the back row, who couldn't even do a simple demonstration in front of class without being embarrassed. Please let someone else embarrass themselves up there. Please."

What can you do?

I just hate moments like that.


  1. I can completely relate. I have been a dancer for most of my life (except for the past several years) and everytime I had a performance in a group or solo I always got the jitters and had to pee. EVERYTIME! It's not like it was new to me, I had performed in front of people dozens of times, but it never failed that I would get all nervous nelly.

    I don't particularly mind speaking in front of people, but there's just something about it that's...totally scary sometimes.

    BTW...I added you to my blog roll. I hope you don't mind.

  2. i'm sort of the same way, which is so weird. i'm a ridiculously social person and i don't mind going up to talk to people but put me in front of an audience and my ears get bright red. so basically i always have to wear my hair very down, haha.

    as for solving the matter, i don't really know. imagine people naked i hear works. or just take a few deep breaths and hope that can help you out a bit :)

  3. oh bummer! I totally get nervous when I speak in front of people. I've been doing better, but for my first speech in Toastmasters I put way to much importance on it and THAT made me nervous. Then afterwards I was so mad at myself because it shouldn't have been hard.

    Don't you love how you will always remember that one time in grade school when you got graded down for something when you worked so hard on it.

  4. Uhm, me, first day of "Intro to Broadcast Journalism" - (actually, second day. I missed the first day simply because I forgot. Bad start..) Anyhow. First thing we do? We have to write a story about ANYTHING, and go up infront of the class and read it into a mic and then the teacher plays it back and gives us "constructive criticism".
    Let's just say I sat in my seat sweating. "Are you kidding me? Not even a topic? What if my story sucks? Do I write about my life? What if everyone else writes about the news."
    When it was my turn to go up my hands were shaking, my mouth was dry and my hands were shaking.
    Thankfully, I made it out alive (after stumbling over some tricky words like "the" and "it").
    But I've never gotten nervous again. I just tell myself that these young adults around me are all in the exact same boat I am, and if I screw up? Who cares! That's what school is for!
    I love doing activities like that now :)

    Good luck in the future! I'm sure your entire class doesn't think you're socially awkward. They're probably glad they weren't pulled up to the front:)

  5. I'm so sorry you had to go through an awkward moment (yikes!)-- but I'm sure the rest of the class didn't even notice and rather thought that you were totally cute and had really nice hair! OH MY GOSH-- you are so freakin awesome-- I LOVE that you wrote a book report about that Full House book. I had that book! Heee. I love Full House way too much. ANd yeah, Steph's outfit is pretty dang cool. heeeeee.

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  7. Hi, I don't think we've met.

    I'm the Queen of Awkward. Welcome to my humble abode.

    Next step in your journey will be cracking witty one liners that no one laughs at. Get excited.

    If it makes you feel better, I once peed my pants from laughing - because I got so nervous presenting in front my class I could NOT stop giggling hyterically. I was in SEVENTH GRADE. 13 years old, people. And I'm admitting it on your comments section like this is some confessional

    Honestly, though, I'm sure your nervousness wasn't as noticeable as you thought. I recently gave a presentation and was totally SHOCKED at the positive feedback I got. I was sure my nervousness was completely and utterly apparent.

    So! Take heart! You still ROCK! You're the ROCKING girl in the last row. Um...yeah.

  8. oy, i hear you. and to get graded down when you were otherwise fabu? crazytalk. i remember one day in post grad studies, we had to speak on our own to the class on a topic that should who we wanted the world to know. kinda easy you think, and for someone who spent 3 years as a public corporate trainer, you'd think standing in front of a class of 30 somewhat school friends it'd be no biggie right?

    yeah, i got up there and before i could start i was asked if i was ok, because i had broken out in hives and voice went unusually high and squeaky. and i was like, no really, i used to get paid to do this, i'm ok. yeah, whatever. talk about serious meltdown and embarrassment. world. open hole. let me sink nowwwwwwwwwwwwww.


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